Brought my parents to Staples and Fancy Mercantile last night.
This restaurant had become one of my father’s favorite every time he came to the States to visit.
We always went for the “family style” dinner where we were treated with the element of surprise with the food we received.
The ambience was lively in the restaurant; I wonder if it was too loud for my folks.
The restaurant had increased their price for family style dinner (I seemed to recalled it being $40 not too long ago and we paid $48 per person).
We were treated with different appetizers.
First and foremost, my favorite, fried oysters.
The oysters were big and perfectly fried in a lightly seasoned batter, allowing the freshness of the oysters to come through nicely.
They were served with this spicy dipping sauce which I always ended up skipping because I found it hid the oyster flavor.
My second favorite was the smoked fish toasts.
That night, smoked blue fish was used – firm fish texture with lovely smokiness, I enjoyed the flavors and the combinations of crispy little toast and chewier smoked fish.
The downside was that the fish were on the salty side for me.
Then, there was the escolar crudo.
I loved escolar raw because it was a fatty fish, and the fish oil flavor truly stood out.
The crudo was paired with blood oranges and a little mint; both accompany the fish really well, and I particularly enjoyed the little burst of mint.
It was decorated with olive on top as well which I did not dare to include in my bite because I knew it would overpower the rest of the flavors, needless to say the delicate raw fish flavor.
The escarole salad had a fantastic and creamy champagne vinaigrette, and paired exceptionally well with the walnuts and apples.
The cured meat was fantastic.
I did not catch the name of the meat, but it had a very crunchy texture, tender and not fatty.
It reminded me of the Chinese dish called “Fun Tai” except the meat was soy sauce based and brown.
The house made mozzarella was exceptional and the flavor combination was creative.
The mozzarella was had an awesome springy texture, fresh milk flavor and not salty at all.
On top of the cheese, anchovies and pickled fennel were added, giving it great flavors, fishiness and saltiness to balance the cheese.
It was wonderful!
We also had a sunchoke soup — warm, slight nutty with mild sunchoke flavor, it was perfect for a very cold night!
For pastas, we had a spicy gnocchi with clams and an interesting chestnut ravioli.
The spicy sauce and clams in the gnocchi was fantastic.
The gnocchi were a little harder in texture than my liking as I generally preferred the fluffier kind.
The chestnut ravioli was excellent!
I always associated chestnut with desserts (even though Chinese used chestnuts to cook chicken in soy sauce), and I was excited to find out how this ravioli would taste.
The ravioli had light chestnut flavor and hint of sweetness.
The filling was smooth, and paired with a sage butter and fresh sage, it was delicious and unique.
I fell in love with them!
For mains, we had pork chops and sea scallops.
The sea scallops were huge, just about 2-inch in diameter; seared perfectly with raw natural sweetness inside.
Paired with fried cauliflower and artichoke, it was a textural journey!
The pork tenderloin was also prepared fantastically – tender, juicy and moist.
I loved the sides for the pork tenderloin, an aromatic mushroom farro and a sweet apple parsnip puree.
My father loved meat, and that was most certainly his favorite dish of the night.
We finished off with a cheese cake with kumquat, and a sponge cake with ice cream.
The cheesecake was smooth and nice, not too sweet, and paired really well with the kumquat.
The sponge cake was not very spongy, but with lovely buttery flavor and also very sweet.
I believe there was some syrup on top.
The vanilla ice cream was excellent on top of the cake.
All in all, it was a satisfying meal.
I wasn’t sure if it was worth $48 per person — I guess part of it we were paying for the dining experience and the variety of food.